Cross the ball!

The big mixed bag practice that you can see at the bottom of this page is suitable for 12-14 players who have the power and technique to cross the ball from the sides of a full sized pitch.

The medium mixed bag, below, is more suitable for smaller numbers and/or younger players. It is useful for three reasons:

We can never do too much practice on crossing, but we have to modify crossing practice according to age, ability and numbers.

Younger players cannot cross from the flanks of a full field, but should be encouraged to do so with a modified field.

For older players 14-years of age and upwards there are times when a coach would like to work on crossing, but may only have 9 or 10 players at practice on any given evening.

Medium mixed bag



To encourage young players to think more about using the width of the field.
To develop crossing skills and to look to finish (or defend) attacks from the flanks.


  • Mark in an area 36 yards long (two penalty areas long) by 30 yards wide and then further extend the width with a 6-yard channel on either side. For older players (13+) go wider; younger players (U 11 and less) make it narrower.
  • Put in a half way line, but not in the channel.
  • Play 2 Attackers vs. 1 Defender and a goalkeeper in each half or whatever the numbers allow you.
  • There are two neutral “crossers” of the ball – one on each flank.
  • Keep a supply of balls in each net.
  • Goalkeeper at one end starts by throwing the ball out to one of the “crossers” (wingers).
  • The wingers play a cross in towards the goal.
  • If the defender or the goalkeeper gets the ball they play out to one of the two wingers and the attack goes the other way.
  • At younger ages try to rotate all players at intervals – possibly through all positions.
  • Use the offside law to prevent attackers standing in front of the goalkeeper.


Encourage an accurate thrown ball from the keeper to the winger.

Wingers should aim to cross the ball towards the far post with a hard driven pass or a lofted pass.

The wingers should also aim the ball to split the difference with the cross in between the defender and the goalkeeper.

Attackers should go away from the crosser and then come in as the ball is played in – one to the near post area the other to the far post.

Defender and goalkeeper have to work well together as the defender cannot man-mark two attackers.

Goalkeeper should take charge and organize the defender(s).

Big mixed bag

Big mixed bag


To place field players and goalkeepers in decision-making situations with attacks developed from the flanks.


  • Use half of a full-sized field. Mark out a 6-yard channel each side of field.
  • Use cones/flags at the half if you don’t have a portable goal.
  • Mark in a centre line.
  • The one or two players in each “flank channel” have no allegiance, they play for both teams. 3 vs. 2, plus a goalkeeper, in each half.
  • When the goalkeeper has the ball, the practice is always re-started by goalkeeper throwing to flank players.
  • Flank players can pass to one another, overlap, cross the ball or pass the ball into the 3 attackers.
  • If on their own, take it and cross it.
  • Change the players’ positions periodically to give everyone experience in different roles (except goalkeepers).
  • Offside rule in each zone should be applied by coach.

Coaching Points

Goalkeepers must work on good quality throws to wide players, and be encouraged to “switch” play.

Goalkeepers must communicate their requirements, organize the defence and adjust to changing situations.

Quality of cross from wing players critical for successful attacking play.

Three attackers in each half need to communicate and work “off” one another, with particular attention to “near-post” and “far-post” runs.

The two defenders in each half have to work skilfully because they are outnumbered.


For the “wingers” to deliver quality crosses; for the rest to outmanoeuvre the opposition.